Monday, 25 May 2009

Installing Windows 7 RC1 on IBM Thinkpad Z60m

After reading lots about Windows 7 and how good it is supposed to be on laptops, I decided to take the plunge and upgrade my Thinkpad Z60m to Windows 7. Previously I had been running Windows XP on the laptop, as I don’t think it is that suitable for running Vista. Though Windows 7 has yet to be released, I had a copy of Windows 7 RC Ultimate and decided my laptop would be a good candidate for installing Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system.

As I don’t do anything overly important on my laptop I decided the upgrade wouldn’t be that much of a risk (I can always go back to XP if needed). To start off I decided to upgrade the machine from the base specification, by upgrading the memory to 2 GB of RAM from Crucial (the maximum RAM allowed in a Z60m) and upgrading the standard 100GB 5400 RPM hard drive to a better spec 7200 RPM, 320GB Seagate drive.

After installing the new RAM and hard drive, I proceeded to install Windows 7 from DVD. The installation was very quick and painless. Once installed I discovered the wireless wasn’t working out of the box and the screen resolution wasn’t right. After plugging in a CAT-5 cable, I downloaded the latest Microsoft updates, installed them and rebooted.

Windows update history

Once I had installed the updates the screen was displaying the correct resolution, and I could now use the wireless. I then decided to benchmark the system to get a performance score:


My overall score was 3.7, not bad considering the Z60m is now an old laptop (bear in mind these scores need to taken with a pinch of salt). It seems the new hard drive has a good performance score of 5.9, with the lowest scores being achieved from the Processor (Pentium M 2.0 GHz) and the graphics (ATI Mobility Radeon X600)- both with a score of 3.7.

Since installing Windows 7 it seems to be very stable for a RC. The only other software I have installed so far is MSN Messenger and Windows Live Writer. This blog post has been written using Windows Live Writer in Windows 7. With the ease of installation and strong hardware support following Windows Update, my first impressions of Windows 7 are resoundingly positive- I now just need to install some more software on the laptop.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Started reading Pro ASP.NET MVC Framework

Today my copy of Pro ASP.NET MVC Framework arrived from Amazon. I’m hoping this book will teach me how to become an expert at ASP.NET MVC. So far I’ve read the first introductory chapter and I must say I am very impressed.

It looks like you can view a sample chapter in PDF format for free from the Apress Web site.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Microsoft 70-568 exam study guide

Several years ago (maybe 5 now) when I was studying for my MCSD.NET, I stumbled upon a site for MS 70-316, which contains lots of links to help study for the Microsoft 70-316 exam. Back then you had a lot of excellent books for these exams, like Amit Kalani’s study guides, which I thought were the best around at the time.

Roll on several years later I find myself studying for Microsoft 70-568. Currently there are no specific books for this exam. I’m not a fan of doing courses- I prefer reading and experimenting. So this post is my own lists of links and recommended books that a test candidate may find useful.

It turns out that the upgrade exams are a combination of 3 separate MCTS/MCPD exams (Scroll down to Gerry's comment on the prep guides).

Background Reading

Before starting your study for the upgrade exam, I recommend you do some background reading on what is new in .NET 3.5 for ADO.NET, Windows Forms and ASP.NET. Here are some links to get you started:

Skills measured

This roughly ties up with the skills measured page (as of 17th May 2009) on the MS site (the tabs don’t seem to work in the version of Firefox I use, so it is probably best to use IE to visit this page). The majority of the links point to MSDN, with a few linking to some excellent articles that I found. Of course this information is not 100% complete and subject to my own interpretation of the requirements. You should supplement the missing sections with your own Google search/book reading.

The official books

You might want to get the official MS Press books to help you study for this exam. I didn’t, as I choose to read non MS books instead- for that reason I don’t have an opinion of them. For completeness, these are what I believe to be the official MS Press books for the components that make up the exam:

Unfortunately I can’t find any sample chapters for these books- from the reviews it looks like they may be useful for exam, particularly for candidates with little experience.

The books I used/think are useful

I read a lot of tech books in order to try and stay up-to-date with technology, so I didn’t read all of these books just to pass the exam. Also if like me you have access to O’Reilly Safari, then you can read some of these books on there.

ASP.NET books

  • ASP.NET AJAX in action (this is a .NET 2.0 book but still mostly relevant). A very good book, but unfortunately out of date. I still found it very useful both for the exam and using ASP.NET AJAX. You also might want to consider Professional ASP.NET 3.5 AJAX, as this targets ASP.NET 3.5- I didn’t buy it, but if I was looking for a book now I would probably favour this one over the “in action” range, simple because it is out of date.
  • Professional ASP.NET 3.5. This is a nice easy to read book on ASP.NET 3.5. It would probably be most useful for people who haven’t done much ASP.NET, but have some .NET experience.
  • Essential ASP.NET 2.0. Brilliant chapter on Health Monitoring and Web events- the chapter is called Diagnostics. This book looks like it aimed at more experienced ASP.NET developers. I only read the chapter on diagnostics, but the rest of it looks interesting.
  • Programming Microsoft ASP.NET 3.5. Good coverage of authorization and authentication.
  • Programming ASP.NET 3.5, 4th edition. Another book with good coverage of authentication and impersonation.


Windows Forms

I didn’t use a Windows forms book to study for the exam, but I can recommend this one:


I didn’t buy any specific books on ADO.NET. However I know this framework exceptionally well, as it use it on virtually every project I work on. A book I found useful when upgrading to .NET 2.0 was:

A book that looks like it could be very good is “Professional ADO.NET 3.5”, though I’ve not read it myself.

General .NET

  • CLR via C#. This is the one book I recommend to any .NET programmer. For the exam it has an excellent chapter on performing asynchronous operations.

Of course you don’t have to use books at all (or you might not have the budget to buy books), in that case the next section is the most useful.

Extra stuff

You don’t need to this stuff for the exam, but I stumbled across it whilst revising.

Completely off topic, but I found it interesting- distributed caching:

Other interesting stuff:

Finally there is lots of useful programming information on Stackoverflow.